Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Roderick Winstead, integrated care manager at the Department of Social Services, answers questions at Coordination of Care Committee meeting. Bill Halsey, director of the integrated care division of the Department of Social Services, is on the right. (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

HARTFORD, CT — Consumers of Connecticut’s non-emergency medical transportation services expressed concern Wednesday about what happens when their ride to their doctor doesn’t show up.

Veyo, the company that contracts with the Department of Social Services and transportation providers to offer those rides, reported that they had 390 complaints out of the 385,716 completed trips in June. That means the complaint percentage is at 0.10%.

Roderick Winstead, integrated care manager at the Department of Social Services, said that might not be “statistically” significant, but they would like to see that number drop lower.

In May, the complaint rate was 0.10% and in April it was 0.09%, while in March and February it was higher at 0.12% and 0.13%.

However, the number of substantiated complaints, according to Veyo, was much lower last month at 0.03%. On average, the company says it took them 12 days to resolve a complaint in June. Most of the complaints, 47, involved drivers failing to pick up consumers and 26 involved a late pickup from the doctors office.

Brenetta Henry, a consumer of the non-emergency transportation and a member of the Care Coordination Committee, wondered if the complaint numbers were low because people have given up complaining and are arranging their own rides.

Non-emergency medical transportation is a federally mandated service offered to Connecticut’s 800,000 Medicaid patients.

Henry said she couldn’t guarantee Veyo would pick her up to take her to her sleep study so she arranged her own transportation.

“That 0.10% complaints can not be right. It can not be right,” Henry said.

But there’s no way for the department to track the complaints it doesn’t receive.

“There’s no way for us to know how many complaints may be missing,” Winstead said.

Sabra Mayo, another consumer and member of the committee, said some people may be afraid to complain because they’re afraid their ride won’t show up as a result.

Althea Manayoje, a consumer and member of the committee, said maybe people have stopped complaining because they don’t believe their voices are being heard.

She said people are also looking for other options because they don’t have three hours to wait for a ride.

“You guys got a $100 million contract. You guys really have to step it up,” Manayoje said. “You’re dealing with people who are vulnerable and in wheelchairs and mentally ill.”

Karen Buckley, vice president of advocacy at the Connecticut Hospital Association, said her members have told her that Veyo has been very responsive to problems they’ve experienced. She said there haven’t been a lot of complaints lately and when there are, they are resolved quickly.

In an emailed statement, Veyo CEO Josh Komenda said “the information presented during today’s Coordination of Care Committee meeting failed to properly address the improvements that Veyo has made since winning the state contract, and is wholly inconsistent with the objective metrics and conversations with the community that our team members have each and every day.”

Komenda said the committee has failed to recognize the improvements the company has made “by clinging to anecdotal information that cannot be backed up with statistics.”

“Veyo won the state contract in part because of our embrace — not opposition — of technology,” he said. “Our model relies on thoughtful innovation to provide accountability and transparency. This reliance on accurate data makes it all the more disappointing to see Coordination of Care Committee members make baseless arguments and then refuse to provide any form of evidence.”

Some members of the committee wanted to know what was going to happen when the contract expires in another year.

Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport, said it’s premature to talk about what happens when the contract expires and it’s more important to focus on making the current contract work.

On-time performance was 81.47% in the month of June. However, drivers were only on time 70% of the time to pick up patients and 93.4% of the time to transport them home.

“That’s unacceptable to the department. That would never be an acceptable number to the department,”  Winstead said.

The number of patients not showing up for trips has also increased from 8% in February to 10.84% in June.

Veyo recently terminated seven transportation providers who were not performing to their standards. Since starting the contract in January 2018 they have removed 18 underperforming providers, placed 14 on corrective action plans, and added 17 new providers.